Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on January 25, 2010

Did you hear an explosion last week? That would have been this yarn the moment it touched water:

mojave yarn

I got this fiber–Ashland Bay Merino in the Mojave colorway–as part of the Fondle This! Fiber Club. I’m doing this club in part because one of my patterns is being included in the club, and I decided that this would be a nice opportunity to try different spinning techniques. First up: spinning from the fold.

I’ve spun from the fold for tiny samples before, but I hadn’t ever kept it up for a long period of time, or tried to do it while maintaining a particular thickness. Maintaining it for 4 ounces seemed like a worthy plan, and an expansion of my spinning toolbox. My ability to do this new technique followed my standard learning curve.

Day 1: Pure frustration. Nothing works. Constant breakages, things slipping through my fingers that looked fine. A big pile of snarly fiber both on and off the bobbin after 30 minutes, as long as I can stand it. Clearly I suck.
Day 2: I still suck, but at least I’m not frustrated anymore. No unpredictable breaks, but thick and thin like whoa. A lot of intentionally breaking the yarn to remove an ugly bit, a lot of stopping to deal with a slub.
Day 3: As far as I can tell I am doing exactly the same thing as Day 1, but suddenly things are holding together, more or less evenly, and I can actually control what’s going on. It’s not as good as my comfort zone, but now it’s just a matter of refinement. Magic.

I knew that this yarn would not be the most even in the world, and I was fine with that. I had aimed for a sportweight 2-ply, and I figured it would be close to that with occasional forays to DK. Plied and skeined directly after spinning, I had 15-16 wpi with a few thicker slubs, looking very similar to some commercially spun sportweight yarn in my knitting bag. Sweet.

Then it hit the water. Remember? kaboom.

Now first of all, this is non-superwash merino, which loves to bloom like a blooming thing. Secondly, I was intentionally spinning with a woolen technique, quite different than my usual semiworsted drafting style. These two things added up to the yarn blooming rather spectacularly after washing and drying, from 15-16 wpi to 13-14, suddenly DK bordering on worsted.

A good lesson in sampling, and a good lesson on spinning to spec with a new technique. I really like the resulting yarn, squishy and bouncy and warm. But it’s not at all the yarn I intended, and it’s not the yarn for the project I was thinking of (a retread of Suppliers of Angst).

I did really want to do a quickie project with this yarn, and in looking through my favorites on Ravelry I found a cool project from the book Knitting Nature, involving a variety of hexagons put together in interesting ways. I’m not very far on this one yet, but it seems to be getting my knitting mojo back after almost exclusively spinning since late October. (I’m knitting on 8’s, incidentally, and the fabric is not at all dense, but the yarn is completely filling up the spaces. Magic.


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